Case Study

Vortex Combi boiler injects warmth into converted church

Vortex Combi boiler injects warmth into converted church
The converted church which is now being kept warm by a Grant heating system

An old church located in Perthshire has undergone a complete renovation to transform it into a home in the picturesque Highlands. The project involved the installation of a new central heating system which features a HVO compatible Vortex Pro Combi oil boiler, providing the homeowner with an efficient heating system today which is ready to convert to a low carbon liquid fuel in the future.

The Project
Property: converted church
Heat source: oil boiler
Products installed: Vortex Pro Internal Combi 21kW, low level balanced flue

In 2023, a church situated near the banks of Loch Tummel in Highland Perthshire began to be transformed into a domestic dwelling. The church had its traditional features including pews and a pulpit, large stained-glass windows and pitched pine floorboards. The property had no heating system so a major part of the renovation was to design and install a suitable central heating system that would fulfil the heating demand of this unique building.

Building type and insulation

The building materials of the church presented the homeowner with plenty of challenges when it came to minimising heat loss and improving the insulation of the property. “The church is made from granite blocks that are 3ft thick and it is unbelievably cold,” explains the homeowner. “I once arrived at the property in January to find all the doors and windows open because the workmen said it was warmer outside than in! The church sits at 600ft above sea level in an area that has a lot of rain and it can still have snow in May.

“I have taken everything back to the stone and had 100mm high quality insulation fitted everywhere I could,” continues the homeowner. “I have also insulated the attic with double-thickness insulation. There are, however, areas that have been difficult to insulate: the two very large stained-glass windows and the pitched pine floor which has cold air circulating underneath where there are no foundations, just cold earth.”

Choosing the right heating system

With no heating system previously fitted in the church, the homeowner had to start from scratch. A number of factors prevented a heat pump heating system from being feasible for the church. Firstly, the homeowner wanted to keep the traditional floorboards and, as these had been put in with deadhead nails, it was not possible to take them out and it was not an option to cover them, so installing an underfloor heating system was not possible. The homeowner also wanted a heating system which would inject quick boosts of heat into the property because its temperature can get very cold at times.

“I looked at heat pumps but they were not suitable for our particular property,” the homeowner explains. “My mind was finally made up when I came across HVO. Although it is changing quickly, at the moment, the delivery of HVO is patchy so I needed a boiler which I could use initially with normal kerosene heating oil and then switch over to HVO at a later date when the fuel becomes more readily available. With the conversion process straightforward, the whole package made sense to me.”

HVO biofuels and the conversion process

Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) is 100% biofuel and it can be used as a ‘drop-in fuel’ to replace kerosene oil. Compared to kerosene oil, HVO can reduce carbon emissions by up to 88% (SAP 10.2) which means it can help homes, which are not currently suited to low temperature heating systems, to reduce their carbon emission in a cost effective way. All of Grant’s Vortex floor standing boilers are HVO compatible, meaning they can be converted to HVO operation in a few simple steps as part of an annual service. The Vortex Pro Internal Combi 21kW was therefore the chosen oil boiler for this church installation.

“My installer, Richard Folkes of Rannoch Heating Ltd, loves Grant boilers and he has a real thirst for knowledge about how HVO will work,” continues the homeowner. “It was Richard who alerted me to HVO in the first case. While HVO can be difficult to source, this is changing rapidly with a recent private members bill proposing to make its supply compulsory by heating oil companies. As it is used more, the price will come down but the main attraction is that it is greener than kerosene while providing all the same convenience.”

Quick installation, easy to control and efficient

The installation of the new Vortex Pro Combi boiler was completed in Spring 2024 and the homeowner is hoping to move into the renovated church later in the summer. “The installation of the boiler was very quick,” explains the homeowner. “I was at the church when the boiler was delivered one morning, had errands to run and when I came back the next morning, the boiler was in place. I love the ability to control it remotely, which brings the bills down by an enormous amount. It is straightforward to use and heats the building wonderfully. The whole installation process has been remarkably stress-free which, if you have ever built a house, makes it a very unusual purchase and installation!”

The Vortex Pro Combi boiler installed at this converted church has been commissioned and the central heating system, which is currently using kerosene oil, is fully operational. The homeowner is planning to convert the system to HVO operation as soon as the fuel becomes available, when we will speak to this homeowner again to learn more about the steps involved in transitioning their heating system to a low carbon liquid fuel.

Click here to for further information about Grant's HVO compatible oil boilers.

Vortex Combi boiler injects warmth into converted church
The Vortex Pro Internal Combi installed in the boiler room, located beneath a hinged worktop to allow for easy access during servicing

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